Chinese demand for Western Australian rock lobster is expected to rise significantly following the reduction in import tariffs from six to three per cent on 1 January 2018, as part of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Tiger Fresh, the perishables forwarding division of Hong Kong forwarder, Tigers, expects greater demand for live lobsters shipped directly to China, Australia’s largest market for the crustacean.
Western Australia has a management quota system in place for lobsters, with total catch limited to 6.4 million kg per annum, for what is the country’s biggest seafood export, measured from 15 January to 14 January the following year.
Tiger Fresh currently represents a number of export companies, equivalent to approximately 80 per cent of the total catch of five million kilograms. Of this total, 99 per cent are exported to China either via a direct flight option, or via Vietnam, as part of the ‘grey trade’, according to Tigers.
The forwarder said the new reduced tariff will help Chinese businesses to import live lobsters at a cheaper rate. Direct entry from Australia into China was previously propelled thanks to the VAT rate reduction from 13 to 11 per cent, which came into effect on 1 July 2017.
In 2019, tariffs on live Australian rock lobster will be reduced to zero, further strengthening export numbers to China.
Shipments are distributed throughout the year, with peak periods governed by the weather, and the market conditions in China. “During Chinese New Year, we experience a dramatic increase in demand for live lobsters and transport up to 50 tonnes of live lobsters per day,” said David Wilkins, forwarding director, Tigers International Solutions. “This year the festival falls on 16 February and we are confident we will be able to respond to the increased demand,” he added.